The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows

The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows MOBI ´ Rift:
  • Hardcover
  • 530
  • The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • English
  • 13 September 2019
  • 9780670060597

About the Author: Jonathan Strahan

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10 thoughts on “The Starry Rift: Tales of New Tomorrows

  1. Sesana says:

    So what we have here is a collection of 16 short stories connected only by the fact that they're all science fiction. And... that's it. There's no other thematic overlay here. Which was perfectly fine by me, because it was a great lot of stories.

    My favorites: Scott Westerfeld's Ass-Hat Magic Spider (the perfect way to open the collection), Neil Gaiman's Orange (told through the answers to questions unrevealed here), Stephen Baxter's Repair Kit (gloriously classic sf), Cory Doctorow's Anda's Game (very plausible, very near story set in a MMO, and sounds thematically similar to his novel For the Win), Ian McDonald's The Dust Assassin (sad and beautiful, and set in a future India), Greg Egan's Lost Continent (refugees from alternate timelines, and the sadly plausible government reaction to them) and Pinocchio (wildly plausible story about virtual popularity).

    I liked most of the other stories a lot, and in another, weaker collection they might have ended up as favorites. The Surfer and Post-Ironic Stress Syndrome just didn't do it for me, and I completely skipped Margo Lanagan's offering. I've learned my lesson, she just doesn't appeal to me.

    So in a collection of 16 stories, I at least liked 13 of them. Pretty impressive.

  2. Abby says:

    The first couple stories in this anthology were pretty good, but around the fourth story I started losing interesting. I tried skipping around to the other stories, but couldn’t get into any of them. I ended up just skimming them to get an idea of what they were about. I was really disappointed cuz I was really looking forward to reading this book. Time to find a different book to satisfy my sci-fi craving.

  3. Robert Runte says:

    fully admit that I initially sprang for this anthology entirely on the basis of Stephan Martiniere's cover illustration. It's what SF covers are supposed to look like, and wrapped around a nice hefty volume (530 pages), seemed to hold out the promise of some good old fashion SF. Even the subtitle, Tales of new Tomorrows had a nice 1950's ring to it.

    I was not disappointed.

    Editor Jonathan Strahan has pulled together 16 of the top names in the field, which provides a great sampler of contemporary authors if, like me, you've been off reading in a particular subgenre, and would now like a quick sense of whose doing what on the main stage. I was delighted, for example, to discover Ian McDonald through the inclusion of The Dust Assassin, a near future SF set in the Indian subcontinent. I can't believe that I hadn't heard of McDonald before and that no one thought to recommend him to me. I have since added all his titles to my Amazon.ca 'wish list'. For me, The Dust Assassin was alone worth the price of admission.

    But even where I was already familiar with the authors — names such as Cory Doctorow and Neil Gaiman — I was delighted that Straham had been able to solicit such consistently high quality stories. Gaiman's Orange for example, is a positive gem, for all that it was apparently dashed off enroute to the meeting with Straham; and Doctorow's Anda's Game is a wonderfully optimistic response to Ender's Game. And so it goes, with at least 12 out of the 16 stories rating an 'excellent'. That is an incredibly high ratio for a representative cross section of the field: almost by definition, one cannot expect that everything will be to one's tastes.

    Straham also contributes a brief but extremely intelligent introduction. Unlike most editors who seem compelled to laboriously — and redundantly — explain how each story fits into the collection, Straham instead provides an insightful overview of the field as a whole. This state-of-the-genre report benefits from Straham's Australian perspective, providing a thought-provoking corrective to our usual American-centric assumptions.

    Straham also allows each author a half-page afterward, along with a half page biography, to contextualize each story; again in sharp contrast to those anthologies that utilize forewords, which too often contain ruinous spoilers.

    So, was there a theme that united this collection? Was The Starry Rift indeed the 1950s-style 'sense-of-wonder' SF I was looking for?

    There's an old joke that asks What is the Golden Age of Science Fiction to which the reply is supposed to be 13; the implication being that SF is best when discovered at that age, regardless of the actual period in which it was written.

    In that sense, then, this is indeed Golden Age SF. All but three of the stories feature protagonists aged 13-17. Identifying with these youthful protagonists made me feel 13 again. Reading this anthology, it is impossible not to reminisce about one's own discovery of SF, thus providing an extra layer of nostalgia on top of the stories' own build-in sense of wonder. I am not convinced that Straham set out to solicit stories of young heroes, but that's what he got, and it makes for an extremely successful themed anthology. Indeed, I wanted to find a 13 year old to read these to. But whatever the reader's age, this anthology is a sure bet.

    © 2009 Robert Runté Reprinted with permission from NeoOpsis Magazine, #19 (Winter, 2009) p. 70.

  4. Michael Smith says:

    Some editors of science fiction anthologies (like Gardner Dozois) are very talented, and they have the shelves full of Hugos to prove it. Most of those who cobble together a thematic collection of short fiction by an array of different authors, though, are less dependable. Strahan falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. His stated goal is to ask again the classic question in the ongoing SF conversation: What’s happening in the world we live in and where are we going? It’s a serious question, and it’s certainly worth asking, but Strahan seems not to have kept it clearly in mind when he was commissioning some of the fifteen stories written specifically for this volume. The result is a very miscellaneous gathering of short pieces without much thematic coherence.

    There are no actual horrific duds here, but a few of them are much better than the others. One of the better efforts is “Cheats,” by Ann Halam, which starts fast in its exploration of virtual gaming in the near future, and then picks up speed. Kathleen Ann Goonan is one of the most original authors out there these days and “Sundiver Day” does a lovely job on the subjects of Key West and cloning. And while I’m not that much of a fan of Alastair Reynolds, “The Star Surgeon’s Apprentice” takes the clichéd space pirate in a whole new direction. On the other hand, while his work is usually well above average in the field, Greg Egan’s “Lost Continent” wanders through Islam in the past and in the future without ever really getting anywhere. And while Neil Gaiman nearly always knocks it out of the park, his story “Orange” is just confusing. I read it twice without ever quite figuring out what was going on. There are okay stories by Paul McAuley and Walter Jon Williams, plus a number of others by authors I confess I’ve never heard of, but none of those really made much of an impression. Given its intentions, this could have been a much better collection.

  5. stephanie cat says:

    This collection of sci-fi stories by authors like Scott Westerfeld, Garth Nix, and Neil Gaiman shows what good science fiction can really be. These stories are brilliant, each with its own perspective and lesson.

    Science fiction isn;t about aliens and spaceships. It explores everything that never happened. Some of these stories take place in worlds where you put yourself into your game, or where it won't matter if you die, because they can just re-upload you mind into a different body. Whether read in space or on the earth, this book rocks.

  6. Roseann says:

    This is one amazing compilation of stories.
    I especially loved 'AssHat Magic Spider by Scott Westerfeld, which is a homage to a certain Charlotte and I won't spoil it for those of you planning to read it...
    I also liked Neil Gaiman's Orange for its Outer-worldly excellence. I am looking forward to more compilations of this kind which give uis snippets of shorts from people who usually write longer pieces. The cover art alone pulled me in.
    Overall, Bravo!

  7. Violet says:

    If you want some good sci-fi, this book is it. It has all of what's good about sci-fi: interesting topics that just make you think, relations to the present, cool and new tech, aliens, different planets, star travel, and more. It even has a story about vampires for you vampire lovers. It's got everything for the everyday sci-fi lover.

    What's disappointing is the two authors that even made me buy this book (Neil Gaiman and Scott Westerfeld), had the shortest stories in the whole book. They were good but...you know kind of disappointing. I guess it was a good thing that the rest of the stories were so good.

    I agree with Jonathan Strahan when he said that sci-fi is an ongoing conversation about what's happening in the world we live in and where we're going. Sci-fi is as much about today as it is about the future. It about what we think our society today is heading. It's basically a statement of today, through the use of tomorrow.

    Sci-fi also have a tendency to have sort of a collective unconscious, if you know what I mean. I found a lot of similarities between other sci-fi TV shows and movies I watch, and stories I read between the stories in this book. From Doctor Who to Avatar and on. In fact one of the stories in here was almost the same thing as another story in another sci-fi book of stories that my dad it reading. Its weird.

    Here's a few comments about each story:
    1)Ass-Hat Magic Spider by-Scott Westerfeld: Again a short story, but I rather liked it. It was an interesting way to think about space travel and the delicate systems that make space travel and how humans fit into the those systems.

    2)Cheats by-Ann Halam: It was an interesting thought to think about how gaming and space travel can be related, and how we're all really a string of data in the end.

    3)Orange by-Neil Gaiman: The shortest story of them all. That cheating Neil Gaiman...That's not to say that it wasn't good. It was cool how he wrote it. It was all the answers to unknown questions for some interview or something. It was cool.

    4)The Surfer by-Kelly Link: This was my favorite story out of all of them. It's basically about this American who is in quarantined in Costa Rica where this surfer lives who is the first person to have contact with aliens. It have everything. A collapsing America, flue plagues, plausible tech, first contact with aliens, skeptics, believers, loss of hope, and a hopeful future. And its all told through a normal teenager's point of view during this 4 day period he is stuck in this warehouse in quarantine. I LOVE it.

    5)Repair Kit by-Stephen Baxter: This is basically a tribute to classic sci-fi. Dangers in space. Ship heading to certain doom and the captain has to stop it in time to save everyone. Not to say that it wasn't good. I loved how he named the ship the Flying Pig. That was just perfect.

    6)The Dismantled Invention of Fate by-Jeffrey Ford: Another far future story. But it was an interesting one. At parts you had to go back and think, 'wait, what just happened?' It was a brain twister if you know what I mean. I still liked it.

    7)Anda's Game by-Cory Doctorow: Another story about gaming, but this one is different. Its your classic game played on a computer, and sounds like it could take place in the near future. It shows the consequences of gaming so much (getting fat of course). It also shows how third world countries and greedy rich people come into play, and it sounds very plausible.

    8)Sundiver Day by-Kathleen Ann Goonan: This was the most boring out of all of them. Yes, it had cool tech like cloning and stuff...but it was mostly descriptions about the Florida Keys. Hearing how the world winks or how blue the water is, is not what I want to read personally. Yep, its the worst out of all of them. But still okay.

    9)The Dust Assassin by-Ian McDonald: I like this one. It was sad and original. It was also based in India, where most of the culture is the same as it is today and the past. It was cool to see how the future is in other places other than Europe and the western world. I really liked this one.

    10)The Star Surgeon's Apprentice by-Alastair Reynolds: I like this one. It had cool tech matched with the classic gore. It also had aliens and a mystery, so of course I liked it.

    11)An Honest Day's Work by-Margo Lanagan: This was the story I was talking about was basically the same as another story by another author. It's basically about this community that takes apart and uses every bit of this gaint alien thing that is killed then brought to them, kind of like a whaling community. I liked it. I'm interested on how this story compares to the other one like it.

    12)Lost Continent by-Greg Egan: This was a close second favorite. Its about mysterious dimension hopping between other universes that are similar to ours and our universe, done by refuges of those other uinverses. Its just the mystery, combinded with the plausible reaction of our government, that just makes this story so good. I really like it.

    13)Incomers by-Paul McAuely: This story was okay. It had colonies on different planets, a past interplanetary war, ect. It wasn't unusual, but it wasn't bad either.

    14)Post-Ironic Stress Syndrome by-Tricia Sullivan: Now this story was interesting and original with the whole M-space (the 5th dimension), and then M-eq (how they control M-space) and M-ask (how they connect the human body with M-eq). It was also interesting how they use M-eq to space travel along with time travel, along with the fact that the two fighting parties in the current war build people that are connected through M-space to each of their planets and people and ships. So the two people fight and its a battle in the war, when one gets hurt something in that party's territory is destoryed or damaged. Simple. And then there's the virus like thing that lives in M-space (called Medusa) that wants people to stop using M-space. Overal it is an extremely interesting concept and I really like it.

    15)Infestation by-Garth Nix: This is the with the vampires. At first I was wondering how that would fit in with the sci-fi theme of the book, but it turned out to be the classic vampires are aliens thing (which I happen to really like the idea of). Overal it was a really really good story. And I'm now interested in reading more of Garth Nix's stuff.

    16)Pinocchio by-Walter Jon Williams: Now I have no idea how the title comes into play here, so don't ask me. I liked this story. Yes, it was sad but so true. It even could've taken place today if it wasn't for the cool tech they had. I like it.

    Wow, that was possibly the longest review I've ever written. I think my hands are starting to cramp up....I should stop...It was a good sci-fi book and I really think if you like sci-fi that you should read it. Until next time...

  8. Rebecca Zhang says:

    I saw this book in the Auckland City Libraries last year, and I was planning on reading it for a reading log, but found a better book, and forgot about it. I saw it again this year, and decided I was definitely going to review it this time.
    The Starry Rift covers the short story section of the bingo box. I enjoy reading short stories, as they can be quick reads, and be very enjoyable.
    I chose the pieces I’m going to comment on here at random – by opening the book randomly, and ended up with Orange by Neil Gaiman, The Dismantled Invention of Fate by Jeffery Ford, and Infestation by Garth Nix.
    Orange by Neil Gaiman was written in a strange way, with all of the text in the story being answers to a questionnaire. The narrator’s sister, Nerys, started wearing an artificial tanning cream, and one day applied a strange substance instead, and started glowing orange, and believed herself to be a god of sorts. My favourite quote from the story was ‘Also, I mean, the Rolling Stones? These little old goat-men hopping around the stage, pretending to be all rock and roll?’ Personally, I have nothing against the Rolling Stones, but it still found it funny.
    The Dismantled Invention of Fate is a story written about an old astronaut named John Gaghn, and an alien woman named Zadiiz. I didn’t like this short story as I found it quite hard to follow and concentrate on. However, there was a paragraph in the story I liked because the idea of fate and destiny had always interested me. ‘“Well, it is the series of events beginning at the beginning of everything that will eventually dictate what must be. And all you would need to do to change the universe would be to undo one thing that must be and everything would change.”’
    Infestation by Garth Nix was about bioengineered vampires infesting Earth, and a group of people on a vampire hunt. Parts of the story seemed more fiction than sci-fi to me, but to others, maybe not. “It is too easy to become involved with humans, to want more for them, to interfere with their lives. I didn’t want to make the boss’s mistake. I’m not human, and I don’t want to become human or make them better people.”
    My favourite character from these three short stories is Jemima, the narrator of ‘Orange’. Even though the narration was brief, and there wasn’t much detail about many things, I still found her character likeable, due to her sense of humour, and the parts of her personality that showed through.
    Through this book, I learnt of ways people looked at the future, at what could be just around the corner.

  9. Chukwudi Barrah says:

    A collection of 16 unconnected short sci-fi stories by various fantastic writers, including one by Neil Gaiman. Some other great shorts in the collection are Pinocchio, the surfer, orange, dust assassin, post ironic stress syndrome, and the dismantled invention of fate. Not in any particular order. If you enjoy sci-fi, with ideas of what the future (if we still have one) will look like, you'll very likely enjoy this collection.

  10. circle says:

    only the first story was good. the rest are unreadable and the author's notes were usually more interesting than the story!